Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Chemical and Biological Engineering

First Advisor

Surya K. Mallapragada


The aim of this work was to obtain a fundamental understanding of drug release mechanisms from polymers that undergo thermoreversible gelation and to synthesize new polymers based on these that exhibit both pH and temperature sensitivity. Novel block and random copolymers with cationic character have been developed for drug delivery and gene therapy applications. The development of these materials began with a study of the mechanism of drug release from poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) and poly(propylene oxide) (PPO) block copolymers. This study revealed the release rates of drugs from water-soluble hydrogels composed of the PEO-PPO-PEO block copolymer PluronicRTM F127 was dictated almost solely by the rate of interfacial dissolution at the water/gel interface. A setup was designed to measure drug release from such soluble systems in order to avoid confounding hydrodynamic effects as a result of shear on the delicate polymer/gel interface. This study was followed by a complementary analysis of the effect ionic salts play in the phase transitions and drug release profiles in aqueous F127 solutions.;In an attempt to incorporate pH sensitivity into such drug release systems, several block copolymers of poly(N,N-diethylaminoethyl methacrylate) (PDEAEM), PEO and PPO were synthesized via anionic polymerization. Diblock materials (PEO-b-PDEAEM), either with or without a carboxylic acid endcap, were synthesized and characterized. Tablet dissolution experiments demonstrated pH-sensitivity in their drug release profiles relative to PEO tablets. Pentablock materials (PDEAEM-b-PEO-b-PPO- b-PEO-b-PDEAEM) were synthesized that maintain the thermoreversible gelation and micellization properties of F127 while introducing pH-dependent release from aqueous gels of the copolymer. This is the first example of non-crosslinked materials that exhibit both pH- and temperature-sensitive behavior. Using a similar synthesis route, random copolymers of PDEAEM and poly(poly(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate)) (PEGME) were synthesized which are water soluble and non-cytotoxic, whereas homopolymers of PDEAEM are neither. These materials have potential as gene therapy vectors.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Brian Curtis Anderson



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

180 pages